Posted in Value thumbnail

New Year Challenge: Weekly Value Thumbnail Sketches!

Hello Creative Friends!

In my last post I told you how I plan to use a few art apps to prepare value thumbnail sketches in the New Year in order to help me make the planning stage for painting more fun, AND to help me use my limited time more wisely when I do sit down to actually paint.

Well, I am following through with my promise to share those thumbnails with you. 🙂

In fact, I thought that I might go ahead and include my thumbnails in short weekly posts to my art blog as a way of staying accountable for maintaining this new discipline!

So with that in mind, here are the first of the thumbnails I have created. I limited the values to 5.
(For those of you new to these kinds of thumbnails, a value sketch is a kind of roadmap of the darks and lights in a painting that helps it make sense to the viewer.)


The first 5 of these thumbnails were created using the Brushes Redux app.

One of the really cool things about the Brushes Redux app is that when you are done with a painting (or in this case a value sketch) you can play back a timelapsed video showing the painting process from start to finish!

I probably won’t include these videos very often, but here is a video of the #5 sketch above using Brushes Redux. 

What makes using this app fun is that you can import the picture you want to sketch and use it as the “bones” for your sketch—literally cover it up with the values you want to assign to each element of the photo!

This is also helpful if you want to edit out something, and you can undo any changes you make to the sketch as you assign the values for each shape. 

Of course, you can do more than value sketches with this app. You can also test out color schemes if you want to as well as different painting brushes and effects, but I am less interested in these for my purposes.

In my opinion, Brushes Redux does what I need it to without being TOO overwhelming for someone new to creating digital art of any kind.


The next three thumbnails I’ll share this week were created using iPastels.

Like the Brushes Redux app, iPastels also allows you to import photos from your camera roll so you can use them as the basis of paintings or sketches.

I have to say I still am not sure what to think of this app. Using it definitely “feels” more like you are using soft pastels, but so far I kind of like the thumbnails I was able to achieve with Brushes Redux more than the ones I created with iPastels.

I am new to both apps, however, so will withhold final judgement until I am more experienced.

I must mention one really nice feature, though. iPastels allows you to change the color of the paper you are working on while still maintaining the colors you used for the actual painting. Even more helpful, changing your paper color can be done at any time during before, during, or after painting! (Note: this option is only available as an in-app purchase.)

Changing the painting support’s color is a wonderful way to try out the effects of different colors of underpainting BEFORE investing time, money, and supplies. (You can see how I’ve changed the paper color in the following two thumbnails.)



Well, I have to say that creating thumbnails in this new way was quite fun for me, not withstanding the learning curve of trying out new apps…

There are MANY art apps out there. I suppose there are many which could help you create thumbnails and more complex digital paintings. Try one out and see if it sparks some new creativity in your art life!

Till next time,

Stay creative!



Rhonda is an artist, violinist, mountain dulcimer player, composer/arranger, homeschool mom, and chicken/goat farmer. To purchase her fine art, visit

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